Italy calls WikiLeaks release "9/11 of diplomacy"

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini attends a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud Al Faisal in Riyadh November 6, 2010. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

ROME (Reuters) - The expected release of classified U.S. documents by WikiKeaks will be the “9/11 of world diplomacy,” Italy’s foreign minister said Sunday, urging Italian prosecutors to investigate the whistle-blowing website.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, on a trip to Qatar, said he did not know the content of the files to be released but warned they would”blow up the relationship of trust between states,” according to Italian news agencies.

“It will be the September 11th of world diplomacy,” he said.

In an interview with state television earlier Sunday, Frattini said the release would be the product of “a criminal activity that has already been prosecuted in 10 countries, including the United States.”

“I hope Italian magistrates will also look into the matter,” he said.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government, worried that some of the documents might embarrass it, Friday cited the expected release as part of a strategy to hurt Italy’s international image and its economic interests.

Some newspapers have said the documents will be made public later Sunday.

reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Ron Askew